4th Attempt - 05/05/15

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4th Attempt - 05/05/15

Post by alexmcmotor » 13 May 2015, 13:46

tl;dr 18h 29m 46s, 05/05/15, Alex Kneller & Mingke Pan

This attempt was organised within 4 days. My friend Mingke told me on a Thursday that she was interested in doing the Tube Challenge (it should be said that she didn't know how long it took when she asked...) so I explained that really it's quite a debilitating experience; no guaranteed food, no guaranteed toilet stops, and most importantly, no guaranteed success. It was after all this that she asked "how long do you think it takes to complete the challenge...?" to which I replied about 18 hours, as was our route schedule. She showed no remorse and the following Tuesday, we were doing a Challenge.

The pre-Challenge part of the day went okay. We got up in time at 3am, caught the bus at 3:45 to Hounslow and arrived at Hounslow East as per my previous attempt. Unfortunately the Metros hadn't been delivered so we weren't able to pick up a Metro straight away. The 4:51am train departed a minute late, but that's not too bad, right? As long as it leaves Heathrow T4 quickly enough...

So 4 minutes late, at 5:06am our Challenge began, and at around 5:12:30 we pulled into T123. We thought we'd missed it, until as we were pulling to a halt, a train pulled in on the opposite platform, and it was the train we wanted, miraculously running late as well. It then made up a few minutes by not waiting it's full time at T5 but still left about 2 minutes late, but we got into Acton Town in time for our 5:54 connection. As we got to the main road at Chiswick Park a bus came so we used our Travelcards to ride it all of one stop. Richmond went fine, but as we approached West Kensington our train slipped behind. At 06:39:20 our train pulled into West Ken. 10 seconds later and I would have called it, skipped Olympia and carry on. We did the Olympia run in 6 minutes flat. Neither of us could believe that we made it. A slip between Earl's Court and Edgware Road put our Hammersmith train a couple of minutes behind (it had to wait for us to cross the junction) and we ended up 2 Picc trains behind on the way up from Hammersmith to Cockfosters. Our friend Rob (whom I'd done my 3rd Challenge with!) did the morning food drop, and wished us luck for the day. He only joined us between South Ken and Piccadilly Circus, before he double-backed as he had a lecture to get to. We had a good turnaround at Cockfosters but Oakwood was where things went wrong. We had to wait about 12 minutes for a 307, and 20 minutes behind schedule we finally arrived at High Barnet. I swear we could have (and should have) walked faster than that damn bus crawled.) 4 minutes for a train at Finchley Central took us up to MHE, where thankfully our train turned into a Bank branch service (last morning one from MHE that goes farther than East Finchley I believe) which brought us back a couple of minutes.

We caught a Met train at Moorgate which meant we could run straight down to the Jubilee avoiding the ticket hall at Baker Street. Unfortunately, and despite saying out loud "Jubilee Line, Northbound" as we get off the train, I run to the Southbound platform, and just as we reach the bottom of the escalator I say "shit I took us the wrong way" and when we finally get to the Northbound platform (which although I didn't know, we could have been done by a passage between the platforms that I didn't know about) we miss a train by seconds. I kick myself for it as we wait 3 minutes for a train. We had some interesting moments as although the platform indicator said "Stanmore", the announcements on our train said Willesden Green, and when our train arrived at WG everyone (but us) got off. I noticed there was definitely some congestion, as there was a train in the other platform, not moving, a train waiting in the siding (with headlights not tail lights) and a 2 trains waiting for the other platform too. After about 2 minutes our driver came over the tannoy "this is a Stanmore service that is ready to depart" and before people even had a change to get back on, he closed the doors and we left. We weren't complaining but I felt a bit miffed that he didn't wait for everyone to get back on.

While we were on the way to Stanmore, I checked the service status, and the Victoria Line was suspended between Kings Cross and Walthamstow. We were planning to go down to TCR from Edgware, then back and change to the Vic at Warren Street. We have time to go to the toilets at Stanmore station, and run straight onto a bus at Canons Park and only wait 1 minute for our train to leave at Edgware. In a double case of "unfortunately", the Vic didn't reopen as we caught the WiFi at I don't remember which station, and we wanted CX service and we were on a Bank; so we ran through the labryinth that is Camden Town to the other Sbound platform, and a to my delight a CX train was just pulling in, so that saved us another 2 minutes or so. We changed up our route (the first time I've had to do so on a Challenge) and went down to Leicester Square, up to Holborn (yes I am aware it is a done thing to run from TCR to Holborn but we weren't up for that) and onto the Central up to Leytonstone. During this time I was in contact with my Dad as to what the quickest way was to do the Eastern extremities of the Central line, but he was on holiday in Italy so he couldn't offer much help as he has done in my previous attempts. We get off at Leytonstone at around 12 and tuck into some lunch, having decided to wait for a Hainault train. Unfortunately we have to wait about 8 minutes at Hainault, and then once again, an Epping train leaves as we fly across the footbridge at Woodford, leaving us a painful 9 minute wait for the next one. We wait 5 minutes at Epping for our train to take us back to Leytonstone where we had to wait 11 minutes at Leytonstone High Road for an Overground train. Thankfully the Victoria line had reopened by this point but was still up the creek, and we had to wait 6 minutes for our train from Walthamstow Central to eventually leave. We resume our normal route at Oxford Circus, switchback at White City and change to the Overground at Shepherd's Bush where we wait about 8 annoying minutes for a train (a Southern, as it happens) to take us to West Brompton. Thankfully we run straight onto a Wimbledon train at W Brompton, and soon enough we're in Wimbledon.

The exact same thing happens as last time in the Wimbledon area. We got on a bus to South Wimbledon, it drives a few hundred yards and gets stuck in traffic. We press the button to get off the next stop, and didn't have the courage to ask the driver (especially given the signs saying they couldn't) ask him to let us off. Thankfully some impatient school children were, and as we jogged the remaining distance we passed no more than 2 of the same bus we were on, stuck in the same traffic jam. Changes at Morden and Kennington go okay, and a perfect cross-platform leaves us at Brixton where we make another unforced error as we had to guess which train left first. The train on the platform we were on said 3 minutes, so I hop off and run across to the other platform to check what it said. As I was walking back across, the train that Mingke was still on closed it's doors and left. I then caught the next one 2 minutes behind her, and we met up at Victoria. Happy that we had met up again, but a bit annoyed that we lost another 2 minutes. Thankfully the next train on our reverse at Sloane Square was a Circle line, and the Aldgate run went perfectly, and we dived into an Upminster train. We were given strange and rather condescending looks from who appeared to be a Dutch youth baseball team who took up the entire carriage. Really we should have moved for the sake of our comfort but we didn't. Then annoyingly the first London-bound train at Upminster didn't call at West Ham, and we waited about 7 minutes for one that did. We ran straight onto a Jubilee train at West Ham, which as usual, packed out at Canary Wharf. We get a 1 minute change at Southwark and unfortunately a 2 minute wait at London Bridge for a train just as packed as the one from West Ham. We are practically pushed out the carriage at Elephant and Castle, where miraculously there was a Harrow & Wealdstone train waiting to leave. Mingke's friend TC gives us some well received tea (dinner for you Southerners) at Embankment, and leaves us at Paddington.

We get a good connection back to Kenton at H&W, a decent connection at Northwick Park and we even have time to use the toilets at Preston Road before catching an Uxbridge train. We go back to Ickenham and I again kick myself for deciding not to jog at least some of the distance, as we watched a Central line train leave as we descended the steps to the platform at West Ruislip. Everything from then on went well as we tick off the last remaining stations, East Acton, Ealing Broadway and Common. We got a scare at North Ealing as the driver said that the traction current wasn't working up the line, but a few minutes later we were on the move again. They must have just done the old switch it off and on again. Then. as we approach Rayners Lane, there was a Watford train from North Harrow in 6 minutes. We could never run that in the state we were in, but in yet another miracle, an H10 bus comes over the crest just as I thought we were screwed, and in 4 minutes we're on the platform at North Harrow, thinking we might beat our (well, my) previous time. Luckily our driver from Watford was a bit impatient and we arrive in Moor Park early to make our theoretical 0 minute connection, however the Amersham train we hoped to get was 1 minute late, which extended to 90 seconds as we arrived in Amersham. That tardy driver meant we again missed the Chiltern train back to Chalfont, it even having been generous and left 30 seconds late, literally throttling up the same time we stopped.

It was here that the greatest and least expected part of the day happened. We were at this point resigned to finishing on the same train I'd finished on last time, and I just happened to be glancing through the ticket hall when I saw a bus with "Chesham <something>" drive past. I should to Mingke "that's a bus, RUN!!!" and we dive through the thankfully open ticket barrier and across the road and just, just, make the bus. Between breaths I manage to say "Do you go anywhere near Chesham station" the driver says yes and we get 2 singles. We were buzzing at this point, as I knew, from waiting on the platform at Chalfont on my previous challenge, that there is a Chesham train straight after the Amersham one.

We arrive in Chesham, still in disbelief as to what had just happened. And after some fumbling around Chesham town centre (thanks to some incorrect directions from the bus driver) we arrived at Chesham, our last station with the train sat waiting in it. I contact our friend Rob and ask him about the rules if you depart from your last station. He explains that simply, our time finishes when we arrive at the first station after it. So at this point we simply wait for our train to leave, and, buzzing more than we had been at any point in the entire day, Mingke steps her foot onto the platform, it being her first completion, and our time is:

18 hours 29 minutes 46 seconds.

I was over the moon. We had nearly given up 3 times (being at East Acton, at Rayners Lane and Amersham) but miraculously come out with an 18 minute improvement.
Last edited by alexmcmotor on 24 May 2015, 20:02, edited 1 time in total.
6 FNC Attempts
5 Completions: PB 17:52:44

R15 Victories: 2015-16 R5, 2018-19 R4

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Re: 4th Attempt - 05/05/15

Post by geofftech » 13 May 2015, 22:08

Love it! Great write up! :D

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Re: 4th Attempt - 05/05/15

Post by Iain » 23 May 2015, 14:57

Awesome guys!

The 5:02 is notorious for cocking up
Full Network: Three completions, Best time: 17:18:18 - thanks Glen, Andrew and Rhys!
Former DLR 45 station record holder (with Glen, Andi and Stevo) - 2h:08m:57s
All lines: 46:11 (6th equal)
Zone One 2:52:51 (thanks Glen)


Re: 4th Attempt - 05/05/15

Post by palkanetoijala31 » 23 May 2015, 16:35

didnt on thursday for monsieur daz

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Re: 4th Attempt - 05/05/15

Post by DrainBrain » 23 May 2015, 16:58

Well done!

Providing you do make the connection, having your first train start late is a good thing timewise.
Royal Oak to Bethnal Green in 333 days
Heathrow Terminal 4 to Amersham in 17 hours, 42 minutes and 22 seconds

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